(and I don’t mean Meghan Trainor’s song!)
It’s New Year, which is an exciting time for any runner, as the Spring race season is around the corner.
And if you want that race season to be a successful one, then I want you to think all about the base!
What do I mean?
What if there was one thing that could help you:
· ensure you get fewer running injuries (who wouldn’t want that!)
· run more mileage (yes please!)
· run more comfortably and feel great (honestly!)
· race faster (if you want to!)
That one thing is consistency – running with consistency is the key
Consistency gives you a base to build upon and ensures that your body has made adaptations for what is ahead.
That consistency doesn’t just apply to your running though, it means working towards having consistent sleep & rest and consistent nutrition, as well as consistent stretching and mobility sessions.
Working towards consistency can be daunting, let’s just take the weather and other commitments in your life such as being a parent, or work or study commitments.
It can be a struggle sticking to our plans on the bad days, on the rainy days when motivation is non-existent and stress levels are high.
The problem is that when we set ambitious goals, like setting a new PB, running a new distance, or moving from walk/run to consistent running, consistency becomes all the more crucial.
As human beings we can be programmed so that every time we falter, we seem to dig ourselves a bigger hole, bringing on feelings of doubt. And as many of us are aware, doubt is a HUGE energy and motivational drain.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to being consistent?
Is it getting up for an early-morning workout, turning down unhealthy food, or perhaps warming up before a run? Do you need a running buddy to keep you motivated?
Let’s look at 3 potential pitfalls to consistent running, and work out some solutions.
1. RELYING ON WILLPOWER
Relying on willpower is probably the biggest reason for poor results (I don’t like the word failure).
Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms and legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.
Meaning: Willpower works until it’s depleted. It’s great to get you started, but it won’t keep you going. So your willpower might be great in the morning, but come the evening, when you need to get out in the dark for a long run, your willpower might be nowhere to be seen!
2. GUILT TRIPPING YOURSELF TO MOVE
I think there is something seriously wrong with us. For some unknown reason, we try to shame ourselves into action.
Who hasn’t slept in late and then skipped a workout, but then you have an internal conversation with yourself about it all day!:
“I’m so lazy!”
“Why did I lie in?”
“Everyone else has gone for a run, I can see it on Insta!”
The thinking goes that we can guilt ourselves into action. That if we feel badly about something, we will want to change it and then do something positive but shaming ourselves leads to discouragement, not action.
3. THE DOUBLE-UP TACTIC
With this approach, we try to make HUGE gains in a short amount of time. We think that the quicker we make progress, the more motivation we’ll feel. We cram in 2 week’s worth of running in 5 days!
For a small percentage of people this can work, but for the majority of us it won’t. It can lead to overuse injuries, when we don’t succeed with PLAN B, we feel in a worse place than when we started. With the quick progress comes excitement and energy, but then the lack of rest kicks in!
So, what is the secret to consistency?
START SMALL (LIKE REALLY REALLY SMALL)
Instead of attempting The Double Up Tactic, make your first steps stupid simple.
That could mean running a lap around your house, then running 2 then 3 then, then walking/jogging around the block, or running to a lamppost, then the next one – it could be running consistently regardless of the speed, or just running naked (no watch or tracking device, not no clothes!)
It’s so simple that it’s difficult not to accomplish. The key is not dramatic or overnight change: it’s creating momentum, with small steps and small changes. Riding momentum is the best and easiest way to stay consistent.
But taking small steps is boring right? Warning: If you are the type to skip weeks 4 to 7 on a 12 weeks plan. Don’t do this!
There is a reason why nearly all of the top experts on motivation suggest making such small changes.
BJ Fogg, Stanford Professor and behavioural change expert calls them Tiny Habits
Todd Herman, founder of The Peak Athlete, calls them Microchanges
John Wooden, a men’s basketball coach who has more national titles than any other coach has this to say:
When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big quick improvement, seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens and when it happens, it lasts.
The solution? Ever heard of the Shame-to-Game Technique.
Ever notice how parents try to feed their infants? They don’t scream and make them feel guilty.They play games! They say, “Here comes the airplane, here comes the choo-choo train,” as the spoon full of food dances in front of their child.
They make eating an enjoyable experience. How novel!
Make consistency a game by telling yourself that you are going to run one more lap each day, or run one extra mile a week.
How can you make training more of a game? How can you focus on adding in the good and not beating yourself up when life gets in the way?
2 simple ways to keep things consistent are: TRACK AND REPEAT
You need to develop awareness of what you are doing. Consistency is never a linear progression. There will be ups and downs throughout the process.
The secret to consistency is to track your progress, keep what’s working, and change what isn’t. If you promise yourself that you will get up early to do long runs to get them out the way, but it never happens, then just acknowledge that you might be better off running during the day or the evening. Or you might need a running buddy to help keep you on track. Or set two alarms and get out of bed - but stop berating yourself for not doing it! - Change Something!
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”
“If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got!”
My 4 Rules of Consistency
I want to leave you with a few pointers that can help you on the road to consistency
1. Track your daily goals with a simple checklist. A list on the fridge door or a simple note book of what you want to achieve to be more consistent
2. On the days where you missed a goal, a session or a run DO NOT SHAME YOURSELF! There are no failures, only tests. Write down the reason why you didn’t accomplish your goal and move on.
3. At the end of the week, review your progress. Keep what worked, change what didn’t. Repeat, repeat, repeat each week until you perfect your routine!
4. If you need support, don’t be afraid to ask – find a running buddy, find a running crew who’s values align with your values and use them for motivation on the hard days.
And think on this last point. If you are finding the repetition of training boring then perhaps you are aiming for the wrong goal. Or aiming for a goal that someone else wants you to achieve that you don’t necessarily want to achieve yourself.
Consistency will help you achieve your running goals. That base that you build, those strong foundations will support you in your aims … “it’s all about the base, a consistent base”
Heather Lawson - Owner of Braveheart Fitness, Running Coach to BackPackers Running Crew